With an NRL superstar returning to the game and captaincy decisions now more vital than ever, it's time for a closer look at this week's key NRL Fantasy numbers.
Hayne returns, but is he Fantasy relevant?
When news broke that Jarryd Hayne would be making his NRL comeback with the Titans as early as this weekend, NRL Fantasy coaches everywhere were quick to look at how he would figure in their plans for the run to the finals.
Hayne was added to NRL Fantasy on Wednesday morning, with his price of $380,000 calculated based on his 2014 stats plus a discount for his time away from the NRL. In his last season at the Eels, Hayne averaged 62.8 points per game for the year as he claimed the 2014 Dally M Medal (shared with Johnathan Thurston).
But it might be too early to start looking at bringing in Hayne at this stage. It remains to be seen when he'll make his Titans debut, and where he'll fit into the Titans' 17. For his price tag you could get Raiders sensation Jordan Rapana (WFB, $379,000) or for slightly more, Tigers fullback and proven Fantasy scorer James Tedesco (WFB, $390,000).
However the Titans' next four look like they could be fairly open contests (Warriors, Tigers, Knights, and Panthers), before a trip to 1300SMILES Stadium to face the Cowboys in Round 26. If you're looking to take a massive gamble, Hayne could be your man. From a Fantasy perspective, it's a case of buyer beware for now.
Round 22 captain options
Cameron Smith is generally the safest option as captain each week, but with every chance his game time might be managed against the struggling Rabbitohs, should you be looking elsewhere this week? Below are some alternatives to the Melbourne skipper.
Cameron Munster (WFB, $473,000): Smith's teammate could have a field day against a South Sydney defence that leaked 54 points to the Raiders last week. Should bounce back from his score of 34 against the Cowboys in a big way.
Shaun Johnson (HLF, $522,000): The best half in Fantasy this season, Johnson hasn't scored below 60 since Round 14 (when he scored 56). Averages a whopping 67 against the Titans in his last seven clashes with Neil Henry's side, and 67 in his last three games at Cbus Super Stadium. It won't be easy against this Titans outfit, but history – and form – is on Johnson's side.
Jake Friend (HOK, $441,000): After a relatively lean run, Friend has bounced back in the past two weeks with scores of 65 and 58. Averages 63.2 against the Panthers, including that monstrous 107 against Penrith in Round 7.
Josh Mansour (WFB, $488,000): Scores of 81, 98, 30 and 99 in his last four should tell you all you need to know. Mansour can go big, but there's always that slight risk of a low score with a winger. The Roosters have improved so captaining Mansour would be somewhat of a risk, but it's hard to overlook his (quite frankly ridiculous) recent form.
Andrew Fifita (FRF, $581,000): The tackle-busting front-rower has been key to Cronulla's run this season and has a Fantasy output to match. A last-five average of 72 shows he's not only capable of a big total, but is also fairly consistent. Scores well at Southern Cross Group Stadium, with an average of 60.7 from his last 35 games at the venue.
Paul Gallen (FRF/2RF, $447,000): After two scores in the 30s, things weren't looking great for the Fantasy favourite. The Sharks skipper bounced back with 71 against the Titans, and with an average of just under 60 against the Raiders, he should be in the mix as your captain too.
Jack de Belin (2RF/FRF, $446,000): The Dragons lock looks to be back to playing big minutes after injury disrupted his game time in the middle of the season. Has made 50 tackles in each of his last two starts and should be called on to get through plenty of work with both Tyson Frizell and Joel Thompson suspended from the Broncos clash.
Top scores in Round 21
Josh Mansour (WFB, $488,000): 90
Andrew Fifita (FRF, $581,000): 83
Jamie Buhrer (2RF/HOK, $434,000): 74
Jordan Rapana (WFB, $379,000): 73
Shaun Kenny-Dowall (CTR/WFB, $383,000): 73
Bottom scores in Round 21
Lachlan Maranta (WFB, $133,000): 1
Luke Keary (HLF, $271,000): 3
Ryan Matterson (HLF, $231,000): 4
Adam Clydsdale (HOK, $250,000): 4
Eddy Pettybourne (2RF/FRF, $173,000): 5
Top Round 21 price increases
Konrad Hurrell (CTR, $249,000): +$52,000
Josh Mansour (WFB, $488,000): +$45,000
Ben Barba (WFB/HLF, $392,000): +$37,000
Taane Milne (CTR, $197,000): +$33,000
Jordan Rapana (WFB, $379,000): +$32,000
Top Round 21 price decreases
Adam Clydsdale (HOK, $250,000): -$41,000
Ryan Matterson (HLF, $231,000): -$33,000
Gavin Cooper (2RF, $344,000): -$32,000
Kyle Lovett (2RF, $270,000): -$27,000
Ryan James (FRF/2RF, $499,000): -$25,000